124 Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation 3/1948
Extract MELBOURNE, 5 January 1949
APPRECIATION OF THE STRATEGIC POSITION OF AUSTRALIA-POSSIBILITY OF
WAR AND CONSEQUENT THREAT TO AUSTRALIA
(Revising Joint Intelligence Committee Appreciation No. 1/1947 of
27th March, 1947. )
1. To assess the possibility of war and consequent threat to
DATE OF PREPARATION OF PAPER
2. This paper has been prepared on information available to the
Joint Intelligence Committee as at December, 1948.
ARRANGEMENT OF PAPER
3. The following is the arrangement of parts in the paper:-
Part I Introduction
Part II Summary of Conclusions
Part III Selection of Potential Enemies
Part IV Enemy War Potential
Part V Possibility of War
Part VI Likely Courses of Enemy Action
4. As this paper is a Service Intelligence Appreciation, it should
be borne in mind that in selecting potential enemies we have
considered the worst probable case in order that:-
(a) The probable intentions of the potential enemy can be forecast
as far in advance as practicable before actual hostilities begin.
(b) The necessary information can be obtained to enable a
successful war to be waged.
PART II-SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS
5. The only major power with which the British Commonwealth and
therefore Australia is likely to become involved in war in the
foreseeable future is the U.S.S.R.
6. Any direct threat to Australia will be as a consequence of
hostile moves in the Far East by the U.S.S.R., with the
collaboration of communist-controlled China and the pro-Soviet
factions in French Indo-China, Malaya and Burma. The nationalist
movement in the Netherlands East Indies may be a further
7. Despite the possibility of this threat, Soviet military
aggression in South East Asia is most improbable so long as the
United States of America maintains bases in Japan. A Soviet
challenge to the United States of America in the Far East will be
a necessary pre-condition to Soviet military activity in South
East Asia or the Pacific.
8. The U.S.S.R. should have the economic self-sufficiency to
enable her to support a major struggle by 1957. Despite, however,
any lack of economic self-sufficiency, it is considered that the
U.S.S.R. would not be deterred from going to war now or in the
immediate future if she considered it opportune.
9. A state of 'war' at present exists between the U.S.S.R. and the
Western Powers although it does not involve the employment of
10. It is best described as a 'cold war' in which Soviet
aggression is characterised by the exploitation of minorities and
disaffected elements in foreign countries, and the manipulation of
international organisations in her own interests with the ultimate
object of communising the world.
11. It is at present, and will continue to be for a period, to the
Soviet advantage to restrict activities to this plane. The
possibility of war involving the use of orthodox hostilities,
however, exists, and may be precipitated through either an
unplanned incident or a miscalculation by the U.S.S.R. of the
point at which she will be opposed by armed force or because she
believes that conditions favour the prosecution of her aim by
military action rather than by her present methods.
12. In the event of armed hostilities, military moves by the
U.S.S.R. would be characterised mainly by land advances supported
by air forces, including airborne operations, and supplemented by
intense submarine activity against sea communications. Global
fifth column activities from which Australia cannot be excluded
must be expected. The use of biological warfare and chemical
warfare cannot be disregarded.
13. Taking into account the present strategic dispositions of
Soviet forces, and the logistical difficulty of reinforcing the
Far Eastern area, we consider the Soviet's general plan would be
to fight a full scale aggressive war on her Western and Southern
fronts with the object of overrunning Europe-including Great
Britainand the Middle East. In the Far East she would establish
forces in as much of China and Korea as would be necessary to deny
us the free use of any bases in these territories, and conduct an
offensive against Japanese territory with the object of denying us
control of that area.